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The Raiders’ 27-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday in London’s Wembley Stadium was much worse than the final score or the final statistics — both of which were bad enough.
It represented the loss of hope for the season as well as the chance any East Bay-based fans will ever have of seeing an NFL team based in Oakland amount to anything more than an also-ran.
Coming off a 26-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders were being watched closely for signs of life. Instead, they flew more than 5,000 miles for a “home” game that amounted to a funeral for the 2018 season.
There have been worse scores — a 52-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams jumps immediately to mind — but that team was circling the drain much later in the season en route to 3-13.
About the only game which compares to this one and the rage which will be forthcoming on social media was a 27-0 loss on Monday night to the San Diego Chargers in the 2006 season opener.
That one was when Twitter was just getting started, but the postgame comments on the Bay Area News Group blog that existed at the time were angry and unending. Fans felt as if they’d been sold a bill of goods and it turned out they were right.
The head coach that night was Art Shell, the offensive coordinator Tom Walsh and the quarterback Aaron Brooks. The Raiders finished 2-14, and in truth, it’s hard to refute the notion that a similar season is possible a dozen years later based on the last two games even though the coach is Jon Gruden and the quarterback is Derek Carr.
The Raiders are a punching bag of their own making at 1-5 and it was apparent not long after they lost the coin toss and deferred to Seattle they weren’t up to the challenge. The Seahawks drove 86 yards in 14 plays for a touchdown and ate up more than half of the first quarter.
Being a bad team is difficult to stomach, but it’s even worse to be bad and injured. The Raiders are both.
Amari Cooper, the subject of trade rumors on the Fox pregame show, took a helmet to the head (no flag was thrown) and left for the day with concussion symptoms. So did Seth Roberts. Left guard Jon Feliciano, starting in place of the injured Kelechi Osemele, departed early with a rib injury.
Rookie tackles Kolton Miller (playing with an injured right knee) and Brandon Parker were turnstiles for a Seattle pass rush which sacked Carr six times. He never had a chance, and the Carr family must have been having flashbacks to the days when David Carr was absorbing a beating as quarterback of the Houston Texans.
Carr was grimacing in the fourth quarter after injuring his left arm, at which point coach Gruden was going to insert A.J. McCarron — except the Raiders never got the ball back.
Gruden seemed to think in a dour postgame session with reporters that Carr would be OK. The quarterback was even lobbying to stay in the game.
The lack of protection for Carr manifested itself in the statistics. The lone pass play of 20 or more yards was 21 yards to running back Jalen Richard. Say what you will at the Gruden dink and dunk, but the Raiders had only two fewer pass plays of 20 or more yards than the explosive Kansas City Chiefs coming in.
Against a Seattle team that may be better than expected but in no way is to be confused with the “Legion of Boom”, the Raiders managed 185 yards of total offense. Carr was 23 of 31 for 142 yards and while scrambling for an occasional first down is something Gruden wanted to see, having his quarterback run for his life was never the plan.
“We’re going to have to do the best we can to find five men that could collectively protect much better,” Gruden said. “And that’s what we’ll do.”
Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders in action during the NFL International Series game between Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 14, 2018 in London, England.
The last time the Raiders left London, owner Mark Davis fired Dennis Allen after a 38-14 loss to a mediocre Miami team. That’s not going to happen this time. Davis has turned the football operation over to Gruden, who quickly determined he didn’t like the roster as it was constructed.
The problem is, Gruden has replaced much of the roster with more spare parts, leaving the Raiders possibly worse off than when he arrived. A tear-down before the rebuild? Perhaps, but tell it to the fans who must think the 12-4 season two seasons ago was either a dream or a fluke.
Trade rumors aside, dealing Cooper and/or Karl Joseph isn’t going to turn this around. Neither is getting back Justin Ellis and/or Donald Penn later in the season off injured reserve.
As defensive coordinator Paul Guenther explained last week when asked about the speed of his defense, `We got what we got.”
The same could be said for the Raiders as a whole.
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Gruden said this week “most of the things that are bad, my fingerprints are all over.”
He will be tested as a coach as never before. Gruden understands it’s up to him to fix it.
“We’re going to continue to build this team,” Gruden said. “I’ve only been here for six or seven months. We’ve got some ball players hurt. Karl Joseph, hopefully K.O. (Osemele) can come back after the bye. We lost some men to day. Hopefully they can heal up and play as well. I’m not going to say anything other than that. We know we’ve got a ways to go here.”
As it turns out, much farther to go than anyone imagined.
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